29 Mar 2013

They Should All Be Destroyed

So, I had intended on starting the day with a Game of Thrones post, finishing the day with a Doctor Who post, as a form of unnecessary reminder that these two programmes return this weekend, Who on Saturday, and GoT on Sunday. But really, I don't need to remind any of you of that, do I? No, I should think not. So here's an animation of some raptors being really very... something.

It'll come to me.

Via The Mary Sue.

Ape To Sniff Glue, Expose Breasts While Leaving

This is fun news. Judy Greer, one of the many voices on Archer and generally fantastic comedic actress, has been hired to play the female lead in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Greer will be providing the motion capture for the character Cornelia, Ceaser's romantic interest, as well as presumably the voice. She will be acting against Andy Serkis, who pushed Greer to audition for the role, as well as Gary Oldman and Kodi Smit-McPhee, who have been hired in the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Taking place 15 years after the previous film, it will presumably follow the foundations of the Ape society, as they stomp out the remains of the human resistance.

I've made no secret over my enjoyment of Greer and her roles, and her involvement in a lead capacity of an assumed blockbuster no less, might be enough to convince me to see this film. Or, at least, see Rise, which I still haven't done, because the trailers looked ridiculous, but I've heard nothing but good things about since. So, I suppose I should get off my hind end, and watch the thing already.

Via Collider.

[Opinion] - How To Save The Game Of Thrones

Courtesy of HBO
As we prepare for the third season of Game of Thrones, my thoughts return to a worry from last year. A nibbling in the back of my mind with each episode, that the show was getting too big for it's own good. And that, like a star, eventually it will collapse in on itself and explode. I suggested a change of formats might serve it well, or structuring entire seasons differently, with more focused episodes, like last year's Blackwater, and having less of the principle cast in each episode. Yes, it might mean that your favourite characters only appears twice a year, but in the end, it'll serve the show as a whole better.

Except that isn't the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the show. It's too successful, and continues to be. If it had been a mid range hit, it might have survived for a couple years before being cancelled to minor displeasure. But the show is huge. It makes money, but it costs money too. And, as HBO has proven in the past, it is not above simply axing a show without warning if it gets too expensive. And because of the writers thus far near strict adaptation method of the novels, I feel my following equation (and rounding down) can be used to assume the length of the complete series:
One season each for books one and two, already done. Established two seasons for A Storm of Swords. Assuming the plots of Feast For Crows and Dance of Dragons will be reintegrated, those will take at least three seasons to cover (possibly two, if elements are moved forward, and merged with second half of Storm of Swords). Assuming the length of the Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring are comparable in length to those last two books, each of those would require two seasons at a minimum. That adds up to eleven season in the least.
The producers have estimated the story to take 80 hours (eight seasons), but this feels like a low-ball estimate. However, much longer then that simply is not feasible. Not for actors, not for writers or producers, and not for HBO's bottom line. Because the show cannot expect to maintain the same level of success (financial, critical and creative) it has experienced over the past two years for a further nine; that is simply a law of thermodynamics. Which means, the longer it runs, the better the chances of the network putting the money into something new, like Neil Gaiman's announced American Gods series, and abandoning Westeros like a fleeing Targaryen. And that doesn't even take into account that all of the novels haven't been written yet, and that at the current rate, the show will pass George R.R. Martin's ability to publish. And while he would be able to tell the producers where he was intending on going, would any fan of the books watch the TV series finish before the novel was published?

So, what can be done? Can they make moves now, to save Game of Thrones from itself? Well, I foresee four options, which I will detail after the jump (contains spoilers for all five books).

28 Mar 2013

All It Needs Is A John Williams Score

Photo from arXiv

The above image is believed to be the very first image of a planet, or other less-then-solar-massive body, orbiting a binary star. The object, with the snappy name 2MASS0103(AB)b, was detected by a group of researchers at Joseph Fourier University in Grenoble, led by Philippe Delorme. The image was taken by the Very Large Telescope in Chile last year, and is now believed to be a super gas giant, or brown dwarf star, in orbit around a binary system, which is drawing comparisons to Tatooine from the Star Wars films.

The planet in the photo, if it is a planet at all, of course wouldn't compare to the fictional Skywalker homeworld, considering it is 14 times the size of Jupiter, and orbits a mere 12.5 billion kilometres from the binary stars. I say mere, but this is roughly how far the Voyager 2 probe has travelled since being launched in 1977. For something this size, that is rather close, especially for a planet. It may also be a brown dwarf, a extremely small failed star that do not under go fusion, and emit (nearly) no light. The research team will now focus on examining the chemical make up of the orbiting object, in an attempt to clarify whether it is a planet or a disappointment to it's solar parents.

They will also remain classy, and not point out that with the arrow included in the image above, their great discovery looks ever so slightly like a penis. I, apparently, am not that classy. Sorry.

Via Phys.org To read the original report, go here

The BBC Turns To The Gods

Merlin was born out of good reasoning: the BBC wanted a family friendly show, that adults and kids alike would enjoy, to air at tea-time on Saturdays, during those months when Doctor Who wasn't around. After five series, Merlin finished this past Christmas, leaving them with a hole in their schedule, a hole they wasted exactly no time plugging, green lighting a pitch from Merlin co-creators Julian Murphy and Johnny Capps, and Misfits/Dirk Gently creator Howard Overman. The pitch: Atlantis.

The series will be set in a “strange, compelling realm populated with snake-haired goddesses and palaces so vast it was said they were built by giants”. It will centre on Jason (unknown if the same of Argo fame or not) “bringing into life the vast store of Greek myths and legends re-imagined for a new generation.” So, essentially the basic Merlin formula, but set in the mythic days of Greece.

I'm excited about this. Setting aside that Mythic Greece is one of the areas of my expertise and a subject that I'm always interested to see reinterpreted, when Merlin was good, it was very good. It took a couple series to mature properly, and another to appropriately balance tone. They had an issue with pacing right up to the end, but they never had a problem when it came to character development, and the emotions and acting on the show were always bang on. Hopefully they'll be able to bring some of that over to this new series.

The new series has also been cast, and again the Merlin formula of a combination of unknowns and seasoned actors has been replicated. We don't which roles they'll be playing, but after the jump you see who will be part of this mythic cast

[Review] - Justified, Season 4 Episode 12, "Peace of Mind"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
There is a lot in this penultimate episode of Justified's fourth season that made it feel like the season finale. The whole construction of the episode, coming down off the big high that was the past two weeks, that felt epilogue-ish. It brought an end to many of the plot lines, I dare say nearly all of the season specific ones anyway, and ended in a place that can grow fertile plots for next season.

And yet, there remains one episode to go. And that might be a sign of Justified's continuing attempts to undermine and subvert viewer expectations; to go left when expect them to go right. Because it has left me at a complete loss at to what we might expect from the show next week.

Hit the jump to read the review, which contains spoilers that once stole a dead guy's sun glasses.

27 Mar 2013

Statistically, He's Pretty Much Even At Being The Best At What He Does

This first full trailer for The Wolverine has a real Batman Begins vibe to it, especially the opening narration. Not that its a bad thing, there are worst things to attempt to emulate. But I'm a little off put by how many times in this trailer Jean Grey appears, if only because it forces us to remember that X-Men 3 remains a thing that happened. At least until Bryan Singer gets through with his latest X-Film.

The rest of the trailer looks solid, though like its original spiritual predecessor, X-Men Origins, the "epic" fight sequences look like they'll be relying too heavily on CG that isn't as spectacular as they think it is. I'm looking at you, train top fight sequence. You and your lack of Alfred Molina in a trench coat.

But gods damn if Jackman still doesn't still look and act perfect in the role.

Look Everyone, It's A Big Cow!

Fast fact: before he settled on animatronics and, as a late edition, digital creations, Steven Spielberg was going to make Jurassic Park using stop motion maquettes. Why? Because that was the only way to do it, and was the only way dinosaurs had been done on film since King Kong.

And I have to say, I doubt the film would have been as successful, as beloved, and warrant an IMAX 3D release for the 20th anniversary if the dinosaurs had been rendered as lumps of clay (personal aside: I'm a huge fan of stop frame animation, and am certain that Spielberg and Universal would have put the money into making the very best dinosaurs using that sort of effect, it just wouldn't have looked as good). A huge part of the film's legacy is that the dinosaurs didn't look like puppets, they looked like real (as science understood them at the time). They still look real. Spielberg has said he wasn't interested in making monsters, he wanted to make animals. And that is all down to Stan Winston, and the wizards that worked for him.

Since early last year, the Stan Winston Studio has been posting videos of the creation of the dinosaurs for the original Jurassic Park. And they've continued to post videos of Jurassic Park, and other Winston projects. And they are fascinating to watch, see how these amazing effects are brought to life. And thus comes to surface another of my hesitations about a potential 4th film in the series. Because they don't have the time to do all this. To actually make the animals, in the shop, so that they can be a real and physical presence in the film. So they will have to (over) rely on modern CG, as JP3 did with the Spinosaur, which looked good, but it lacked the essence that the T-rex had in the first two films, by benefit of actually being on set with the actors most of the time. Remember, in the original, CG was sparse because Jurassic Park was the first film to use it in that way. It was also expensive and time consuming. Not so much now, but the speed in which CG can be created also means it is less refined then when it was a back breaking labour, and thus looks real when done quickly. Even the puppetry in JP3 looked stilted and lifeless, because they knew they were going to rely more on the CG then anything.

Best looking puppet in the third film? The T-rex, because they just reused the Lost World original.

Via /Film.

Doctorless Doctor Who Short Explains Why The Clone Was Hanging Out With The Lizard Last Christmas

Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax will, by the end of this series of Doctor Who, have appeared in four non consecutive episodes, which I'm fairly certain makes them the most reoccurring, non-companion characters the show has had since the return (or alternatively, puts them in the running for possible companion status). The fans love the lesbian lizard lady, her domestic partner, and their potato-headed assistant, and have done so from moment one. While I felt that they weren't well used in the Snowmen, the prequel shorts were very good, and have proven so yet again in this explanation of how Strax went from being dead at the end of the Battle of Demon's Run, to alive in the 1880's at Christmas (a distracting plot hole at the time). This short just goes to show, never count a Sontaran out, especially when they aren't entirely dead.

After their initial appearance, I like many others called upon Mr. Moffat and the BBC to give the characters a spin off of their own. I'm now rethinking this position, and calling on Mr. Moffat and the BBC to give the characters their own series of internet exclusive shorts. I feel the characters (and their humour) would work better in the shorter format (it is certainly where they have shone the brightest thus far), and the shorts could be serialised like Who was back in the day. Nothing says happy 50th anniversary like reptilian lady detectives and their paramours.

Oh, or, have them cross-over with Ripper Street.

26 Mar 2013

And If You Order With Prime, They Can Be There Tomorrow

Do you know Jeff Bezos? He's the CEO of Amazon, has a personal wealth that would make Lex Luthor jealous, and he's really into space. At the turn of the century, he founded Blue Origin, one of several private companies trying to get into space, with the specific goal of eventual space tourism (putting him more in line with Richard Branson rather then say, SpaceX).

 And he may have found the Apollo 11 rockets.

OK, some history. The F-1 rocket engines were what NASA used to launch the Saturn V rockets, which carried the Apollo missions into space, and eventually to the moon. They are the most powerful single-chamber liquid-fuelled rocket engine ever designed, capable of generating 1.5 million pound force and 55,000 brake horsepower (take that, Bugatti). Five of these things were strapped to the underside of every Apollo mission rocket, 65 in total, giving them enough umph to break up through the atmosphere and into space. After they expended their fuel, they were jettisoned 2.5 minutes into flight, where they were allowed to splash into the Atlantic ocean. And were abandoned. To be fair, there was no reason to recover them, other then for museum pieces. They couldn't be reused, and were in such a condition that the Russians wouldn't have been able to reverse engineer anything from them if they had been found. So they were left on the ocean floor.

Almost exactly a year ago, Bezos announced that a team of his had located a set of engines on the ocean floor using sonar. Last week, he announced that some fragments of the rockets had successfully been raised in an ongoing effort to locate the Apollo 11 engines. Said Bezos, "Many of the original serial numbers are missing or partially missing, which is going to make mission identification difficult. We might see more during restoration." The used engines would, of course, have a significant historical value, but also still have a functional value as well. NASA was, as of a few years ago, using original spare unused F-1 engines in experiments, for possible future applications on long space missions.

There is a significant amount of Apollo nostalgia gripping the science-fan, and scientist, community right now, given the last few years have seen massive and sweeping cuts to the American space budget, and the increased successes and bold future plans of private companies, like the one owned by Bezos. This sort of nostalgia is good, because rather then obsessing over what did happen, we can use it as a driving force to make it happen again.

Via Uproxx.

There Are Meant To Be Imperial Walkers On This Galactic Tour, Right? Hello?

I think my favourite part of this Jurassic Park and Star Wars (mostly Empire) mashup is the credit at the end for "Bearded Rebel General." Keep bearding, you marvellous bastard.

Also, the spellcheck had no issue with the verb "bearding." So, that's excellent.

Riddick Looks To Bring The Series Full Circle

I'm not ashamed to admit I'm one of those quite looking froward the third Riddick movie, helpfully named Riddick. I liked Pitch Black, liked the games and thought that despite its flaws, Chronicles was ambitious and has its moments. I'll also admit to being a bigger fan of the character then any of the films he's actually appeared in, so I'm glad that they managed to put the cash together to make a final film in what was always meant to be a trilogy (though, originally Riddick was meant to be the second of a trilogy that didn't include Pitch Black).

And now we've got a very brief, very dark glimpse at it, which looks to be taking more then a few cues from the original film. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing, we'll have to wait until September to find out.

25 Mar 2013

The Bells Of St. John Prequel

Matt Smith is very good a playing manic Doctor. However, I much prefer his angry Doctor myself. Recently, sad Doctor has been getting a lot of play, and Smith does a very good job of it as well. Especially when when children are involved, as children more then anything tend to get 11 out of his funks. My only issue is that his funks are getting a bit... tiring? I mean, I get it. Nearly 1200 years old, and everyone around you keep dying, but at a certain point there is character drama, and there is pointless repetition.

I mean, how many times this regeneration has the Doctor retired, given up, never going to do it again? Two? Three times, maybe? Lets say we get this, he's a deep and conflicted soul, and move on to a new bit of characterisation, shall we?

So, the Prequel for the Bells of St. John has appeared, and there is something I want to say about it, but it is absolutely a spoiler, so I've put it after the jump, along with a new full trailer for the premiere episode.

AMC Already Has The Man Who Knocks, And Those That Shamble, What More Do They Want

AMC has yet another series featuring an anti-hero in Low Winter Sun, bracing themselves for the sever lack of Walter White come this summer. They'll still have Rick over on Walking Dead, but considering the way that show sheds cast members and show runners, who knows how long that will last.

This time, it is Sherlock Holmes and John Carter baddie Mark Strong playing a Detroit cop (based on the same role he played for Channel 4 back in his native England) who murders one of his own, and then has to live with it. He's joined by Lennie James (Walking Dead, Lockout), David Costabile (Breaking Bad) and Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Castle), who gets to wear a damned fine looking hat.

[Review] - Neverwhere

Courtesy of the BBC
I was reading an article the other day about Douglas Adams, and how he pretty much ruined the comedy science fiction genre for everyone else, as most authors who enter into that realm now either comes off as a) a pale imitation of Douglas, or 2) mean, something Douglas never was, towards the genre or the audience. At the end, the author asked who among the plethora of writers working today might be the successor to Douglas's claim, and only Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman were offered as viable options. I would argue that both of these authors are fantasy writers, and tend to avoid science fiction, but then I'd also argue that fantasy and science fiction are really two sides to the same genre coin, and then go on further to state that I hate genre divisions entirely, and isn't it enough for it simply to be fiction, and move on?

Anyway, the point. Gaiman I think has a greater claim to the title, if only through emulation. One of Gaiman's first major works was a biography of Adams, so points there. But both have written highly regarded episodes of Doctor Who (Doctor's Wife and City of Death). Both are (were) immensely pleasant people adored by not only their fan base, but recognised for their skill in the "greater public." And now, with the broadcast of Neverwhere, are part of a rather exclusive club of authors to have seen a specific work become somewhat ubiquitous among the major mediums. Radio series, check. Novel, yes. Television series on the BBC, indeed. Stage show, several. Comics books, for better or worse (mostly worse). Film, not yet for Neverwhere. Towel, Hitchhiker's still has the upper hand there.

The point being, usually for an author to have experienced this level of adaptation for a specific example of their output, they've usually been dead for a century. Douglas and Neil stand nearly alone. And for good reason. Each managed to produce a piece of fiction that manages to transcend the need for medium, to have constructed a narrative that exists in a primal way, that requires and suggests no tether to a particular format, and is a proud example of that basic function of mankind: story telling.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that you can avoid by listening to the full series here.

22 Mar 2013

In The Beginning, The Universe Was Created...

Courtesy of NASA

Anyone who likes looking at baby pictures, this should set your heart a flutter. The above image was assembled using the ESU's Planck observation craft. Planck collects data on background microwave emissions, aka the remains of the beginnings of the Universe. The image, released yesterday, is the furthest back we've ever been able to see the Universe, depicting light emitted when it was only 380,000 years old. Might not seem like a baby, but Planck's data shows that the Universe is 13.82 billion years old. Not only that, but its expanding slower then was previously thought.

 The data was gathered over 15 months, resulting in the youngest ever image of the cosmos. The extreme contrasts in the image are temperature fluctuations which began at the quantum level in the micro moments after the big bang, and eventually grew into the areas hospitable for stars to form and galaxies to cluster, leading the the current universal configuration. One of the fascinating discoveries made using this Planck data is that these fluctuations are not uniform, and that the universe is actually slightly lopsided. This data is new, so the implications of this are still in the early days.

The data also provided physicists some new percentages in universal make up. According to Planck, the Universe is 4.9 percent normal matter, 26.8 percent dark matter, and 68.3 percent dark energy. Normal matter estimates are up, and the dark energy is down four whole percentage points. It doesn't help scientists to understanding what dark energy actually is (it does, actually, because all data aids in determining cause, but that isn't poetically hyperbolic), but it is an important piece of information.

Why should we spend time and money researching what the universe looked like nearly 14 billion years ago? Because, by knowing what things looked like then, we can get an idea of what things look like now (especially those things we can't directly see), and gives us better models to predict what the Universe will look like later. These are literally the big questions in life: where did we come from, where are we going, what will things be like when we get there? It is fundamental philosophy, answered in beautiful, elegant, "simple" science.

Via The Bad Astronomer.

I Was Right. This Will Suck

Courtesy of Universal

Remember the other day, when I reported that Colin Trevorrow had been picked at the director of Jurassic Park 4. And that I said his selection wasn't one of my problems with the film.

His selection is now one of my problems with the film. Why? Because he tweeted, rather curtly, that the dinosaurs in the film will have “No feathers.”

 I am not pleased by this. First off, it doesn't exclude other theropods, but it just certainly suggests that yet again, the major players of the film will be the T-rex, and Spielberg's raptor (I hate to identify it as any specific species, as it matches none of them, even the Utahraptor).

For decades, dinosaurs were regarded as slow moving, docile (even the carnivores) reptiles that shuffled through jungle and waded in ponds. Right up to the edge of the nineties this was the commonly held public conception of the animals, largely due to how the animals were portrayed in books and in films like King Kong, One Million B.C., and all the various Lost World films. Look in any standard dinosaur encyclopedia from any time before 1995, and your see ridged, hulking beasts.

But after Jurassic Park came out, the public saw dinosaurs in a new way. The T-rex went from looking like he did on the left, to how he did on the right.

Museums, many of which had already begun to change their displays to match scientific consensus, all conformed to the new model. If not, they heard complaints. The public image changed to match the scientific consensus, almost entirely due to the film. Certainly, raptors owe their entirely popularity to the success of the film series, as do general knowledge of animals like Brachiosaurs, Dilophosaurus (misinformation and all) and the last film's "hero", Spinosaurus.

So, the growing consensus amongst paleontologists (who, remember, at the time of the first film's release still didn't agree that dinosaurs were related to birds, something that is scientific fact now) is that the majority of theropods had feathers. We know this because of feather evidence left in fossils. There is a real chance that T-rex actually looked like this:

(Some evidence suggests that larger animals like T-rex might have not been fully feathered, supporting more of a mane, or might have only had a feathery down during adolence, that they shed later in life. Raptors though were almost certainly covered). This is fact. This is a reality that people must come to grips with. But, just as before, when the idea of dinosaurs being agile, quick creatures was written off as ridiculous and fanciful, so too is the idea of the bird-like dinosaur. That they somehow are a less menacing giant turkey now.

I feel, aside from entertainment, the film has a responsibility, as the most powerful distributor of the image of dinosaurs, to reflect the current research. They tried on it in JP3, and it was a laughable attempt, with little head sprouts a superfluous touch. People in the general community need to accept that this is how things were 65 million years ago and older, and just because it runs counter to what they think it normal (because a film told them so twenty years ago) doesn't make reality wrong. The new film, whatever else it becomes, had a chance to help shift the public perception yet again.

And it won't. Because there is a chance the dinos could look "weird." Now, they won't look weird, they'll just look wrong.

(I am aware that a throw away line could be added explaining that InGen genetically engineered the animals featherless to conform with the public conception of the dinosaurs. This would both be acceptable and a cop-out. It also wouldn't feed my rage as well.)

Via The Mary Sue.

[Opinion] - Veronica Mars, And Kickstarting

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

One of the bigger things to happen while I was away last week was the announcement that Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell were putting the Veronica Mars movie, long sought after by both, on Kickstarter. The biggest thing to happen while I was away last week was that they met their 2 million goal inside ten hours. As of this writing, the fund has gathered $3.7 million, with more then twenty days left in the campaign. This has since been heralded at the most hyperbolic as an important turning point in the history of cinema, at at the least flamboyant, the introduction of independent film making 2.0.

I'm glad I was away when it happened, because by the time I got back everyone else had analysed what had happened half to death. It afforded me the chance to read the opinions, read the facts, and put together a fairly rounded opinion of what we'll get moving forward. Now, nearly two weeks later, I've collected my thoughts on whether this is a good thing, a bad thing, and whether anyone else should give it a try.

Hit the jump for my thoughts.

21 Mar 2013

Revenge Is A Corpse Best Served Cold

This latest, international trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness is the best yet. It's all plot, like heavily plot. Like, more is revealed in this trailer then in all the pointless half talk over the past six months. Star Trek hasn't ever really done an espionage thriller before (political thriller yes, but not espionage). The other trailers made the film look good, this one makes it feel good. Alice Eve in her underwear is completely out of place amongst the rest of this footage, but beyond that this is a strong advertisement for a film that looks like its going to kick the hell out of itself.

And I was right. Big ol' Search for Spock/Voyage Home reference right at the very end.

Homicidal Psycho Jungle Animation

There are certain things in life I'm glad of. That Bill Watterson never licensed Calvin and Hobbes for anything is pretty high on that list. Not so much now, but five years ago, when Over The Hedge came out, and the Opus and Bill movie was still a possibility, and everyone was buying up comic strip film rights, I could have easily imagined Calvin and Hobbes trying to make its way to the big screen. And I'm glad it never will.

The above animation was done by Ugly Americans animator Adam Brown, and is a perfect example of why its best for Calvin and Hobbes to remain on the printed page. That isn't to say it's poorly done, quite the opposite. Of all the possible Calvin and Hobbes animations, this one is certainly at the top of the class. And the characters remain blissfully silent (their voices belong to the voices of our inner child, and should never be contradicted). But there is something about it that is off. It feels wrong. Seeing them in motion is simultaneously wonderful, and abhorrent. It shouldn't be, and yet you cannot help but look. Like a platypus.

Via Uproxx.

[Review] - Justified, Season 4 Episodes 10 and 11, "Get Drew" And "Decoy"

Every time I miss a week, and have to double up a review, it is always my intention to go threw the merits and let downs of each of the episodes in order. And then, inevitably, something happens in the latter of the two episodes of that completely eclipses whatever else I was going to say, and the former episode gets little more then a courtesy mention.

That has happened again this week. Because Get Drew was an excellent episode. But Decoy was in a league of its own.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that also have a pair of whore's underwear. Just in case.

20 Mar 2013

Reticulated Splines Are The Least Of EA's Concerns

Courtesy of EA
I've never been a PC gamer. If I can be described as a gamer at all, it has always been consoles for me. I've always had at least one, starting with Atari, through the Golden era of Nintendo, then jumping ship over to Sony at the beginning of the 3D generations. I've never been overly current (I only acquired my PS3 early last year) and tend to consider video games an occasional distraction rather then a passion.

The only PC game I've played with any consistency is SimCity, a game of which I've owned every version of, even the only for the SuperNES. I never got into the Sims, mostly because I could give two half tosses about watching the lives of digital people. It was the building and balancing and maintaining the city that I liked. Trying desperately to find the Goldilocks zone between taxation and industrialisation, urban renewal and expansion, and hoping all the while that a giant eye didn't drop out of the sky and vaporise my nuclear plant (I don't listen to environmentalists, especially digital ones).

So, I am of two minds of the current clusterfuck happening over at EA with the launch of the newest SimCity game. One one hand, I am saddened that a game whose legacy I so enjoy has went so wrong. On the other hand, my adoration of schadenfreude is making it hard for me to do anything but giggle whenever I read a new article about how it's all falling apart.

The story thus far: last week, EA and Maxis launched the newest SimCity, a game I have drawn attention to in the past. It did not go well. Apparently, PC games are now including internet-insistent connectivity as a form of DRM, which was news to me, and seems like a dick move to all the gamers like myself who specifically wouldn't buy a game that required an internet connection (more on that later). Now, despite the fact that the title is well loved, EA didn't think the 1.1 million people who bought the game would want to play it as soon as they got it home, leading to failures in server connections, crashed games and generally slow, unplayable game play. This has made a lot of people very angry, and has largely been considered a bad move.

According to EA, the internet-insistence isn't a form of DRM, but that the game is so big and powerful, it requires a connection to the EA servers in order to process. Home PC just wouldn't be able to handle it. Quote,
“With the way that the game works, we offload a significant amount of the calculations to our servers so that the computations are off the local PCs and are moved into the cloud. It wouldn’t be possible to make the game offline without a significant amount of engineering work by our team.” 
They also point out that Sims within your city can vacation in other people's cities, an advance from the last SimCity game, which allowed you to import your families from the Sims. However, this is obviously just a secondary feature, and wouldn't require the internet connection for you to build the city in the first place, and if you're playing SimCity, lets be honest, that is what you are there for. EA has protested demands that the game be allowed to operate without the internet, by saying any attempts to fix the problems would require "significant engineering." The internet being what it is, it didn't take long for modders to start monkeying around in the code, trying to find a fix. Most have found that disabling the internet connection allows for twenty minutes of unfettered gameplay. Others have found that the removal of a single line of code enables indefinite gameplay.

Aside from tarnishing the good name of SimCity, and the name of EA, the company's CEO John Riccitiello has resigned in the wake of this boondoggle. According to Riccitiello,
“My decision to leave EA is really all about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year. It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable.”
So, he's saying that the 60% drop in company value under his 6 year leadership is the reason for his departure, and that it comes on the heels of one of the most public failures of the gaming industry is just bad chance. This seems plausible, but I'd say it was more likely a creative combination of the two. This doesn't look good on EA, and it certainly doesn't endear the future of PC gaming to anyone already in the anti-DRM camp, and has probably moved a few more over to that side in the process.

I'm an isolated gamer. When I sit down to play a game, I want to play a game, not log on and team up with someone half a world away, shouting racist things in my ear. I don't want to compare my scores or trophies, or get sidelined in "exclusive downloadable content." I want to play the game. This internet-insistent DRM was news to me, and makes me nervous for the next generation of consoles, already teased by Sony. Increasingly, the focus on consoles have been on making them into expensive computers, that can Netflix and Skype and all that other nonsense that isn't gaming. I don't know what the whispers in the community are about something similar DRM-wise appearing with the PS4 generation, but if the next generation of console games start requiring an internet connection, then that will be it for me. I'll be done, sitting alone with my SuperNES, dodging turtles and happily disconnected.

Via Gammasquad. Many several times.

Here's The Shituation

The first teaser for Veep's second season gave nothing away plot or profanity wise. This first proper trailer corrects both of those mistakes. Though, mostly the latter. And I'm fine with that.

And I might not be an overly... human emotion feeling sort of "person," but Julia Louis-Dreyfus in that hat is effecting me inappropriately.

I Still Maintain This Will Suck

Courtesy of Universal

According to reports last week, Colin Trevorrow has been selected as the director of Jurassic Park 4, a film which I won't consider real until I'm sitting in the theatre as the light dim. And only barely then...

Trevorrow made his debut with last year's Safety Not Guaranteed, a film that was certainly unique, and had a lot of interesting ideas, but that I never warmed to the way everyone else did. It was a character study piece, and aside from the literal last minute, nothing in it suggested to me that Trevorrow was a natural choice to take over the reigns on Jurassic Park

I have a lot of problems with the concept of Jurassic Park 4, and Trevorrow isn't one of them. He'll either do a good job, or he won't. My issues are with the fact that, based on at least one draft of a script by Rise of the Planet of the Apes writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, the film is apparently set to film this summer in Louisiana, with a release date of June next year. This is stupidly quick. Even with the advances in digital effect production, I can't imagine that any film that will require as much digital work and animatronics as a Jurassic Park film needs, would be close to decent with that fast a turn around. Compounded by the fact that they've only just hired a director, and have no cast. I suppose at least they have a script, which is more then some films get these days.

It seems to me that Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley and Steven Spielberg are rushing this movie into production without having fulfilled the necessary pre-production work (for reference, Spielberg worked on the original film for more then a year before filming began; Trevorrow will get a couple months if the schedule holds), probably at the insistence of the studio. Universal has wanted to get another JP flick out since the third movie arrived more then a decade ago, but have encountered roadblocks in that every attempt thus far has been utter crap.

I would love to see a well made Jurassic Park 4 happen, I really would. Jurassic Park is my favourite film, but Jurassic Park 3 had serious problems, and Lost World wasn't even really a Jurassic Park film (ask me about that later, I'm busy now). Maybe hiring Trevorrow, and the "tight" schedule, is a sign Spielberg is taking the series to a smaller, more grounded place (though how that would work, I'm not certain, considering the original invented modern digital cinema).

I know my wish list is pretty short, but specific: 1) Make it a continuation, not a reboot. 2) The original film is largely responsible for changing the public perception of how dinosaurs looked and moved, over turning a good century of misconception. So, feather those theropods Spielbergo [update: nope]. 3) Bring back different original cast members. As much as I'd like to see Goldblum again, I'd much rather the story move on organically, by keeping it in the family. Hire Joseph Mazzello to play Tim again. He recently appeared in Justified, and was briefly excellent. Also, hire Aubrey Plaza. Just 'cause. 4) Keep it simple. People go to island full of dinosaurs, number of people gradually gets reduced as dinosaurs discover exciting new taste sensation. 5) Introduce new dinosaurs. There are somewhere in the region of 700 known species of dinosauria, and around 40 specifically named in the various films and novels. So maybe it doesn't have to be all raptors, all the time. How about trying out the Allosaurus (bias alert: personal favourite), which sits nicely on the size scale between large raptors and the T-rex.

Or, better yet, don't make another film, allow the original to continue to stand as a testement to imagination and the wonder of film and... oh, the money, you say? You want to make much money? Well, I guess I can't argue with such a bold, artistic position as that.

Via /Film.

19 Mar 2013

To Increase Quality Of Anything, Simply Add Falk

The other day, I was thinking about A Storm of Swords, and the upcoming events of season three of Game of Thrones, and the first thing that popped into my mind was Peter Cook shouting "Mawwiage!" Which of course got me to wanting to watch Princess Bride, which I promptly did (if you are ever more then ten minutes away from the nearest copy of the Princess Bride, correct the horrible direction your life has taken). As I was watching it, it occurred to me how much Stardust is a modern reaction the that film. The movies more then the books, though that might just be because I haven't read either book in ages (don't worry, I'm now correcting this obvious error). But the way Matthew Vaughn adapted and directed Stardust was obviously a massive homage to Reiner's superior film, and I can't help but imagine that Gaiman was probably well under the elder film's influence when his tale came to him.

Anyway, here is a Game of Thrones mashup with the Grandfather segments of Princess Bride. It's good for a laugh, and would be a terrifying way to spend your afternoon if you were eleven and sick.

Via Uproxx.

You Know What Would Be Epic? Dragon Vs. Kraken

I'm not usually a fan of things being described as "epic." Aside from the modern, internet-driven overuse of the word, it like awesome, are rarely used appropriately. They are words that carry heft, and should be left holstered until all other adjectives fail to properly describe whatever it is you happen to be prattling on about. I'm especially leery when it is used in advertising, because it means the producers of the thing have decreed that their product is such, rather then having that epithet given to them by the masses.

That being said, I think it is an appropriate way to describe Game of Thrones. And this second full trailer for the new season, premiering on the ever so close March 31st, does look to be bringing the epic. So long as HBO remembers that even great things on high perches fall just as fast as small things.

Stephen Fry And Karl Urban Give TV A Try

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Well, this is exciting.

I don't usually discuss pilot news, as there is a statistical chance we'll never see the product, so what's the good in getting excited over it? If it becomes a series, then sure, I'll up my bluster, but rarely before. I've been burned too many times before. But this time, I simply can't help but be excited. I'm physically incapable of not being so.

Stephen Fry is returning to TV. Sadly, it's American TV. And sadder still, it's network. But still, weekly Fry. What could be better? It's on a sitcom, starring former Ron Weasley Rupert Grint, about superheroes? From Michael Fresco, one of the minds behind Better Off Ted? Well... OK then.

Fry has been cast as Randolph, butler and perpetual support to Grint's Clyde, a mild mannered modern youth who inherits a vast sum of money, and decides to become a super hero. Fry will be the "Alfred to Clyde's Batman" in the CBS pilot, Super Clyde, and there isn't a single thing about that last paragraph that doesn't make me all smiles. Fry is the perfect straight man, and mastered (hell, practically defined) the role of the butler in his former role in Wooster and Jeeves. He is the exemplar of the relevant irreverency that seems to come so easily to the British, and no one stone faces the sardonic put-down quite so well as Fry.

CBS, please take this pilot to series. And do us all a favour, and make it a good one (hint: let Chuck Lorre no where near it). Also, would it kill you to get Hugh Laurie locked into a recurring role? I doubt it very much.

In other pilot news, Karl Urban has joined J.J. Abrams' latest pilot. Bad Robot has fantastic luck getting pilots made, somewhere in the order of two or three since LOST premiered. They don't have a lot of luck getting them to series order, and no luck getting them to last beyond a season (Fringe is pretty much the only post-LOST example).One of their attempts this year called Human, which reads like an Asimov short story, is centred around a pair of detectives. One, now played by Urban (Abram's Star Trek, Dredd), is an LAPD officer "who has shut down emotionally after a tragic mission that claimed the lives of nine of his fellow elite officers and left him critically injured." The other, played by Michael Ealy, is a robot. Together, they fight crime. Also starring will be Lili Taylor, Minka Kelly, Mackenzie Crook, and Michael Irby, and it will be overseen and written by late-seasons Fringe showrunner J.H. Wyman. And now that I think about it, the plot also sounds a bit like Alien Nation.

I like Urban. Really like. He's a strong actor, who obviously loves himself some genre. He tends towards making interesting career choices, so hopefully that's an indication that Human offers something more then just broad procedural concepts with genre tweaks. As is Bad Robot's usual modus operandi.

Via The Mary Sue, and again.

18 Mar 2013

Doctor Who Teases While Sherlock Begins

The BBC have released a new trailer for the coming series of Doctor Who, set to start on Saturday March 30th. One day before Game of Thrones returns. And a couple weeks before the end of Justified. So, there is going to be some creative arranging of reviews on the site for the month of April. I'm sure it will all work out...

In other Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss news, Sherlock series 3 has started filming, meaning that Benedict Cumberbatch has found some time off from appearing in every other damned thing, and Martin Freeman has a couple months before he has to start flogging the next Hobbit film. You may remember that this year's content clues were Bow, Wedding, Rat. Well, take from that what you will, because Gatiss has revealed the first episode of the series will be called... The Empty Hearse.


Via Den of Geek.

McCoy Gets A Line In, Chekov Still Trapped In A Jefferies Tube

After a year of doing this, I've gotten used to taking a week off and coming back to a pile of news, announcements, and other things I might have been interested in writing about at the time. So, I usually spend a day of so sifting through this pile of largely timely crap, and cobbling together various catch up posts. This time... not so much. As far as I can see, very little happened last week. Nothing major. Nothing Earth shattering. Nothing that broke my RSS feed. And I'm alright with that.

Just before I took off, Marvel revealed the Iron Man 3 trailer, and it looks like Paramount dropped this second trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness early in the week. It's interesting that, while the first was all about establishing plot and atmosphere, this one contains almost no plot points. Comprised mostly of footage from the nine minute sneak peek IMAX Hobbit viewers got, it is all about the action, and the humour. And I have no problem with that. McCoy being disgruntled, Scotty being jittery, and Spock telling jokes is something I can very much get behind. It also established that Admiral Pike wasn't permanently paralysed at the end of the last film, so yay lower motor control!

Also last week, it was revealed that Peter Weller's character will be playing Carol Marcus (Alice Eve)'s father, a character who is playing an auxiliary role in the comic prequel Countdown To Darkness. This does little to establish any concrete about the film, other then Kirk already knows something about this guy going into the film.

[Review] - Game Of Thrones: The Exhibition... Again

All photos by the author.
This time last year, HBO and the TIFF Bell Lightbox presented a unique exhibit to promote the premier of the second season of the Game of Thrones. It was a small exhibit, a collection of costumes and props from the first season, and promised a "sneak peak" at the new season. It was a very good exhibit, and immensely successful. Successful enough that HBO decided to do it again. This time though, they understood the wants of the increased audience. Launching this past week in Toronto, the revamped exhibit has twice as many articles on display, and will travel on to New York City, Sao Paulo, Amsterdam and Belfast. So, if you missed it in Canada, and can get yourself to one of these cities, do so. It makes for an enjoyable bit of evening.

After the jump, a break down of the exhibit, and my thoughts.

15 Mar 2013

[Video] - The Girl Is Mime

The Author is on holidays for the week. So, in the place of the standard features - poorly spelt ravings about "character development," forced metaphors, and a tendency to over-use the word "actual" - enjoy some short films found around the web, created by those with actual talent. See, there he goes again.

The 48 Hour Film Project is an interesting experiment. A crew is given a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre on Friday, and by Monday are required to hand in a finished product. The Girl Is Mime is from Tim Bunn, and stars The Hobbit and Sherlock star Martin Freeman as a Mime. The entire short is silent (the assigned genre) and darkly funny, and an excellent way to finish off the week.

Next week I'm back, and I'll make up for the episode of Justified I missed.

14 Mar 2013

[Video] - R'ha

The Author is on holidays for the week. So, in the place of the standard features - poorly spelt ravings about "character development," forced metaphors, and a tendency to over-use the word "actual" - enjoy some short films found around the web, created by those with actual talent. See, there he goes again.

I've long thought that if a film maker wanted to be truly experimental, truly visionary, to be like George Lucas was in 1977, they should make an entirely alien film. Xenofiction is a rare (and rarely well done) genre of literature, but as far as I can figure, no one has ever made a xenofilm. But imagine: no human characters, entirely different culture,alien languages with English subtitles. I think it would be a blast.

Kaleb Lechowski, who is 22 and therefore reminds me that by 22 I had managed to accomplish next to nothing at all with my life, has come close. His student film, R'ha, is described simply as, "A member of an alien race is being interrogated and tortured by a machine." But it so much more then that. Essentially, its Battlestar Galactica but without humans. And it is beautiful to look at. The visuals are stunning, especially the city sequences, though things look less polished when they step out of the darkness. Still and all, there is better CG in this six minutes then in the last three blockbusters I saw.

Now, if they eliminated the English and created their own languages, that would be xenocinema.

13 Mar 2013

[Video] - Gumdrop

The Author is on holidays for the week. So, in the place of the standard features - poorly spelt ravings about "character development," forced metaphors, and a tendency to over-use the word "actual" - enjoy some short films found around the web, created by those with actual talent. See, there he goes again.

Kerry Conran made what is, for my money, the only good Superman film anyone has been able to get out there. And that was Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Seriously. Sky Captain is Sups, Polly is Lois, Dex is Jimmy, CGI Laurence Olivier is Lex, and Angelina Jolie is shoehorned in. Or, Lady Blackhawk, whichever. As an adaptation of Superman in the style of the Fleischer cartoons, it leaves the Christopher Reeves and Bryan Singer films in the dust. It's only flaw is that it isn't actually a Superman film. But we can't all be perfect.

Not many people talk about Sky Captain anymore, but I'm a big fan. And it's always puzzled me why Conran didn't explode into the studio system, like fellow CG user Zack Synder did. Conran got caught up in the development hell that was John Carter, but has yet to produce a follow up to his feature debut. So, I was excited when his latest short, Gumdrop, a Forrest Gump-style audition tape for a leading lady robot, appeared online. Gumdrop, voiced by visual effects artist Venti Hristova, is adorable and genuine, and I for one would love to see her appear on the big screen.

12 Mar 2013

[Video] - To Be Loved & Understood

The Author is on holidays for the week. So, in the place of the standard features - poorly spelt ravings about "character development," forced metaphors, and a tendency to over-use the word "actual" - enjoy some short films found around the web, created by those with actual talent. See, there he goes again.

In the past year, Patton Oswalt has appeared along side Bruce Campbell on Burn Notice, Timothy Olyphant on Justified, and will shortly appear next to Nick "Axe Swanson" Offerman on Parks and Rec, and Jeff Daniels on The Newsroom. This of course follows up roles in Ratatouille, United States of Tara, Young Adult and his hugely successful career as a stand up. He is a master storyteller rather then a clown, and this miny documentary, To Be Loved & Understood, explores that.

Like Simon Pegg, he is a voice for his generation's counter culture, which as it turns out is geek culture. He's one of the loudest voices helping to turn that counter culture into the prevailing culture. At this point I don't think it's an if, but rather a when that Marvel will cast him in one of their films (forget Adam Sandler or Jim Carrey, Oswalt is your perfect Rocket Raccoon).

11 Mar 2013

[Video] - Paperman

The Author is on holidays for the week. So, in the place of the standard features - poorly spelt ravings about "character development," forced metaphors, and a tendency to over-use the word "actual" - enjoy some short films found around the web, created by those with actual talent. See, there he goes again.

Bob Iger's recent announcement that Disney is all but abandoning feature length hand drawn animation comes at an odd time, since their hand drawn-hybrid short Paperman won the Oscar for best animated short recently. And fully deserved it. A rare bastion of acknowledgement of quality, over the usual Academy Award nonsense (really, Academy? Brave over ParaNorman?). It's the first product of Disney Animation in quite some time that I fully enjoyed. That seemed like it had a soul instead of a bottom line. If Disney put as much heart into a film as they did this short, as Pixar does on a regular basis, they'd have a successful film again. And that film really should be hand drawn.

Seriously though, guy needs a paperweight.

8 Mar 2013

Did He Eat The Spider-Pig?

The folks at Bad Lip Reading are back, and have tackled what I thought was a terrible (or at least pointless) enough film to warrant no holds barred treatment: The Amazing Spider-man. And they've hit it out of the park. This is at least as good as the Twilight sessions they've done, with the same level of overly dramatic expression for underly dramatic things. And, I never realised how often Emma Stone fails to entirely close her mouth. So... thanks for that.

Next week I'm on holiday, which is for the best, because coming up in the next couple months we're going to have the returns of Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, and Warehouse 13, the premieres of Defiance and Hannibal, the releases of Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness, and I've completely run out of ideas for featured content. So, I'm taking a week to relax, and get the creative juices flowing again. To fill in the time, every day I'll be highlighting a short film from the past year.

So, it won't be a complete waste of time, just a nearly complete waste of time.

Much Ado About Something

Now, I'll admit to a certain level of bias here, because I always have a goofy grin on my face whenever I see a trailer for a new adaptation of Shakespeare. But the grin was just that much goofier after watching this, the first real look at Joss Whedon's black and white, modern-with-source-dialogue, filmed at his home with friends during a break on Avengers adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. The trailer is a little... off (a little close to the insanity of the Great Gatsby trailer for my tastes), but the performances look great. Always good to see Clark Gregg on the screen, and it's nice to see the Whedon regulars getting work.

But I swear to gods, if this film doesn't make Amy Acker the leading lady she deserves to, I will single handedly find everyone who fails to hire her and white wash their face with my fist (a metaphor that fails to hold up due to my possible future rage).

[Opinon] - Why Disney, And Everyone Else, Are Being Fools

At Walt Disney Company shareholder’s meeting on Wednesday, CEO Bob Iger announced that for the next production slate (roughly 5 years or so), none of Disney’s various companies, including Disney Animation (Wreck-It Ralph), Pixar (really?) and Disney Toons (direct-to-market and secondary features), have plans to develop any hand drawn animation for the big screen, and will limit such work to half hour animation on television.

From a business perspective, this is understandable. As a fan of animation, I feel that this is a bad move.

This isn't surprising, or unexpected. But with Iger announcing it so publicly, it draws attention to the fact that hand-drawn animation has become an endangered species of film. And it is all the more stark and shocking when the announcement comes from the company that invented feature length animation, and pioneered the art of animated film. It is however, a move consistent with all of the other animation studios, none of which have felt the need to just come out and say it because the legacy and the expectation isn't on them in the way it is on Disney.

Hit the jump for my thoughts on the possible down-fall of hand drawn animation.

7 Mar 2013

When In Doubt, Puppet

Community this season has not been very good. It's ratings are down so low that even if NBC had faith in the show, it would still be cancelled, but worse then that, whatever quality the show had before is completely gone. Clearly, Dan Harmon injected a lot of the tone of the show himself. The characters seem like widdled down versions of themselves, the plots and writing seem sitcom standard, and they are wasting opportunity after opportunity. I have laughed out loud exactly once since the season began (at Abed's whispered "I hate you" at the end of the terrible Inspector Spacetime episode). The best thing that can be said about this year is that clearly the reason Chevy Chase left early was because this season's motto is "we hate Chevy." Every line directed at Pierce has been the worst sort of mean, meaner then in previous years where at least Pierce fought back. But they don't give Chevy anything to do but take it.

Are you happy, Community? You made me feel sympathetic for Chevy Chase!

Anyway, considering that the series has done entire episodes in claymation, 8-bit pixels and alternate realities, that this season will include a change of format offering isn't surprising. And they went with the best, safest choice: puppets. Everyone loves puppets (except those that don't, and those that are terrified of them). I doubt at this point I need to point out my affection for the Muppets, but Angel did a puppet episode which was fantastic.

Of course, Community doesn't have a Whedon at the helm, so we'll see how it goes.

Via the Mary Sue.

Ice, Ice, Baby

Earlier this week, the BBC teased us with a fleeting glance of the redesign of the classic Doctor Who villains-turned-allies, the Ice Warriors. Now, they've treated us to a full, unobstructed look at the redesigned creatures, and it is impressive. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind after I've seen them in action, but it, like the other non Cyberman redesigns, does what it needs to: updating the old design with modern feel and construction, while maintaining the presence of the original. More important in my mind is consistency of design, something they've taken to such extremes with the Silurians that every female of that species has been played by the same actress.

Come April, we'll see how the Ice Warriors have fared in the forty years since they last appeared, in Mark Gatiss' Cold War.

See the new look on an old face, after the jump.

[Review] - Justified, Season 4 Episode 9, "The Hatchet Tour"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television

All through this episode, I was concerned. I was fretful, you might say, that the events of the previous episode had opened the flood gates. An irrational feeling to be sure, but one that failed to subside. Justified shows little hesitation when it comes to killing minor and recurring characters, and regulars clearly aren't all safe either. So, every time things got tense, I was worried that this might be the end of Tim, or Colt, or Constable Bob. Happily, everyone made it through alright, but damned if I wasn't sweating.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that have secretly been living under an assumed name for years.

6 Mar 2013

Whose Line Returns? Yup

Did not see this coming. Any of the this.

Whose Line Is It Anyway is returning to TV, six years after it was cancelled by ABC. The new show will air on the CW this summer, and will feature the return of stars Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady and Colin Mochrie (Stiles and Mocherie were also regulars on the original BBC version, which ran for ten years). The only original star of the show not returning will be the host, Drew Carey, because he is dead.

He's not really dead, he's just skinny, and busy with The Price Is Right over on CBS. But he's skinny, and makes me uncomfortable, and like Craig Ferguson, just want fat Drew back. Replacing him in the host's seat will be Archer star Aisha Tyler, a choice I fully approve of. Unfortunately, a lot of the best (and lasting) humour on the show was the constant mocking of Drew by the guests, and somehow I doubt Ryan Stiles will be as aggressive against Tyler (alternatively, in the British series, Craig Anderson was rarely mentioned by the guest at all, so it could go either way). I saw the entire group sans Drew live on tour back during the height of the show's popularity, and while slightly more awkward then the edited episodes, it was still very funny.

I, like most people, loved Whose Line, both versions at the time, but because a lot of the humour is topical, some episodes this many years later just don't hold up (the sheer number of jokes that rely on Regis Philban hosting Who Wants to Be A Millionaire alone cuts the laughs in half). Now, obviously the new show will rely on current topical laughs, and will hold up just as well in another decade. Luckily, the absurdity and jokes like "Animal Genitalia Audio Clips" are timeless.

Via The BBC.

The Daily Show Without Stewart

Yes, that's who you think. I happened, and was brilliant
John Oliver joined the Daily Show in 2006, around about the time Dave Gorman also joined the cast. Ed Helms and Rob Corddry had just left, signalling the end of the old guard that had been defined by Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell. Oliver was part of the new crew, which included Rob Riggle, Dan Bakkedahl, Jason Jones and John Hodgeman. Some of these names still appear. Some do not. I mention all of this because, it was about mid 2007 that I realised that Oliver was different then the rest. He, more then anyone since Colbert, felt like he was an integral part of the show. An indispensable talent that Stewart couldn't let just move on to "bigger and better" things.

Since then, Oliver has only reinforced my opinion, his appearances proving he is a perfect comedy partner for Stewart, both playing the straight man with a dash of clown, unlike the more conventional comedy roles some of the correspondents play. Each year, when Oliver doesn't announce his departure from the show, I breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that the show would loose a part of itself if he did leave (his prominent first season role in Community unnerved me slightly, but that proved less then recurring) and that Stewart needs to find a way to keep Oliver in the family as long as he can, in the same way that Colbert found his purpose in life as a continuous part of the Daily Show universe.

And I think it is clear that Stewart feels the same as me. Because it has been announced that Jon is leaving the show for twelve weeks starting in June, a sizable chunk of time during which they obviously cannot simply be off air. And filling his seat during eight, or possibly ten of those weeks, will be John Oliver. It should be noted that the only person to ever fill in for Stewart behind his desk, during the birth of his first child, was Stephen Colbert. And the rest they say... is a cliche, so I'll move on.

Stewart isn't simply taking a holiday. He'll be directing his first motion picture, Rosewater. It is based on the non fiction book Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story Of Love, Captivity And Survival by Maziar Bahari, which Stewart bought the rights for shortly after its publication. Bahari, a BBC journalist, was held and tortured by the Iranian government for 118 days in 2009. Stewart's interest in the project is in large part because an interview Bahari did with Jason Jones in Iran, as part of a Daily Show bit, was used as proof that Bahari was a spy. Bahari appeared on the Show to promote the book, during which time Stewart apologised... a lot. Stewart is expected to return to his hosting duties after Labour Day in September.

As for Oliver, he won't be Stewart's self deprecating self. He won't be Colbert's hyper satirical self. He'll be Oliver, a subtly indignant, stiff upper lip with vast chasms of rage building up underneath. He'll be wonderful at the commentary segments, which may well be incentive for Comedy Central to carve out the 10:30 or midnight time slots for another Busboy production. The only uncertainty I have will be with the interview segments, though to be fair, they are always the weakest part of either the Daily Show or the Colbert Report, with Stewart taking ten years to really fall into a "journalistic" groove.

Even money says Denis Leary gets a role in Rosewater, though.

Via Uproxx.

A Strange New Trend In Spoilers

The second trailer for Iron Man 3 has arrived, and it seems less gloomy then the first. Like, if these trailers were the stages of grief, the first would have been depression, and this one would be anger. 'Cause stuff explodes, and Tony gets pissed. Also, Pepper looses her clothes. Which brings me to what I actually want to talk about.

Really, this has only been a thing for maybe the past year or so. If I'm wrong, someone please correct me. But with the multiple contracts Lego has been signing for licensed materials, a brand new form of spoiler has emerged. Yes, just when we though there weren't any more ways to ruin movies, along comes Dutch toys to prove us wrong.

The first major incident I can think of wasn't so long ago, when the announcement of the Man of Steel Lego sets revealed that one set would be named "Black Zero Escape," thus calling into question if the villain of the film actually would be Zod. The confirmation that the Mandarin would be the main villain of Iron Man 3 came via a Lego set as well. And now they may have done it again.

I'm putting the rest after the jump, in case there are those who don't want to know something excellent, but potentially spoilery.

5 Mar 2013

This Seems Familiar

Remember when the first trailer for season 3 of Game of Thrones was released last week? Remember when I commented that HBO has held off from releasing a lot of the same recut footage like they did last year, and yay for them? Well, I spoke too soon, because here's a second trailer! That is just the first trailer! Plus 20 seconds, and a bear! No, not a Mormont, an animal called Little Bart. And that's it.

In fact, in terms of new information, Charles Dance revealed more at a press junket for the Season 2 DVD, when he said:
“We’re about to start season four aren’t we? This year. We get scripts pretty early on, much earlier on than in similar series, usually you get perhaps one episode and you just have to trust that what’s going to come in subsequent episodes is going to be as good as the one you’ve got, but in this I think there are six scripts already written, and we will probably be able to see them with more than adequate time to prepare before we start shooting."
Now, HBO has went on the defencive and made it very clear that the show has not been renewed for a fourth season. Except that it will be. Obviously. Right now, they are making stupid amounts of money off one of the most watched, most pirated, most critically acclaimed shows of the decade. But they wanted to be the ones to let the cat out of the bag. Or the bear out of the pit. Or whatever.

As a writer, I can understand why some of the scripts might be done already, especially if Weiss and Benioff wrote them themselves. The book is split into two seasons, but the themes, the character arcs, they are all still ongoing. As a writer, in the groove, it might be easier to just keep writing, and bring the characters to various stages of conclusion while they are in the proper state of mind.

And like I said, it's not like the scripts are going to go to waste. At least, not right away (more on that later).

Via Den of Geek and The Mary Sue.

Neil Gaiman Doesn't Need Film, He Has Radio

Continuing, and concluding, the Neil Gaiman theme for the day, the BBC has released several clips and bits of the author, and the stars, talking about their forthcoming Radio4 production of Neverwhere. The "trailer" is 38 seconds, and not a bit helpful, so I've favoured Gaiman talking about how he developed the idea, which became the series, which became the novel, which is now the radio play. And because the clips autoplay, I've only included one, and I highly recommend heading over to the BBC and listening to the rest.

If the radio play was else then Gaiman just discussing this sort of background stuff, I'd still listen, and it would still be brilliant.

The series begins in earnest on 16 March.

Via Radio4.

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane

From the publisher:
[I]t’s about about memory and magic and survival, about the power of stories and the darkness inside each of us. The narrator describes a tale that begins when he was seven and a lodger stole the family’s car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and a menace unleashed — within his family, and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a ramshackle farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
Such is the description of Neil Gaiman's next novel, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, due for release later this year (always a thing to look forward to). Sounds fab. And possibly made all the better with the announcement that Focus Films have hired Joe Wright to direct a film adaptation. I'd normally be hesitant to report on a film based on a book before the book is even published, but then again Jurassic Park began existence as a film before the book was even written. Wright, director of period pieces Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, and Anna Karenina, and seventies influenced Hanna, is an interesting choice but certainly a director who has the sort of imaginative eye to capture a Gaimanesque world (Guillermo del Toro and
Henry Selick being the only other two that come to mind quickly, with Robert Zemeckis not at all coming to mind, at all).

The question becomes, will this ever materialise. Gaiman has been hit or miss with associated projects ever developing. Selick and Disney have rather left Graveyard Book by the wayside, a Sandman movie has been right around the corner for twenty years, and who knows if we'll ever actually see the HBO American Gods series. I'm hopeful, but cautious. And truth be told, looking far more to the book then the prospect of a film. Ask me again after I've read the book, and maybe I'll change my mind (I doubt it).

Via /Film.

4 Mar 2013

I'm Beginning To Suspect This Will Suck

NBC's Hannibal seems to be having issues making any sort of sense. This new trailer, coming on the heels of the last, gives us a better look at the series. Confusing thing #1: this promo isn't from NBC, but from the production company presumably that doing the series (presumably). Confusing thing #2: despite being listed as a recurring character, Lawernce Fishburne is given first credit, and the lion's share of the footage, over protagonist Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and title character Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelson). Confusing thing #3: the series still doesn't look like anything other then a standard police procedural, dressed up in a recognisable franchise, and therefore qualifies as "nothing special." Confusing thing #4: Hugh Dancy appears to be playing Graham as a kind of semi-hipster. Either that, or he's just really sad about all the terrible dialogue.

I do like the idea that Lecter is brought in, not to consult on the case, but to provide therapy to Graham. That is a clever, original twist on the tired plot device, and I chalk that up to Bryan Fuller. However, the series does appear to be at odds with the depictions of Graham in the past, who is only messed up and needs to be brought back into the FBI after his dealings with Lecter.

Oh, and I'm fairly certain that if this lasts long enough, Caroline Dhavernas is going to get eaten by Lecter. I'm putting that out there now.
Newer Posts Older Posts Home